England’s green and pleasant lands don’t come much finer than the ones spread over Berkshire and, more specifically, the leafy, affluent hotspots around Ascot and Wentworth. Surrounding the world famous racecourse where cash is splashed on horse racing and sunk on Veuve Cliquot, and Wentworth golf course where the World’s finest golfers sink perfect putts, sprawls the aptly named Windsor Great Park. It is on the borders of this giant woodland that we find Coworth Park: a former equestrian estate complete with converted 18th Century Georgian Mansion that can now boast itself to be part of the exquisite Dorchester Collection.
The promise of spending a weekend in five star luxury is always tantilising. And an escape to Coworth Park, set in 240 beautiful acres, is a palatable prospect. A fine way to beat the January blues, spend a romantic weekend away with your Valentine, welcome the spring in March – believe me, I could think of a valid reason to visit for every month of the entire year. The hotel doesn’t flash its fancy credentials but rather upholds the best combination of history, high quality style and refined taste. It whispers its elegance; surely in part a sign of it’s Dorchester ownership. Even the corridors are beautifully eclectic and decorated with curvaceous cabinets, chairs and lots of duck egg blue.
The main Mansion House offers the Restaurant and a Drawing Room for afternoon tea and all day dining, as well as being host to the bedrooms and sweeping suites upstairs. In addition, there are the converted cottages and stables, which are just as beautifully fitted and offer a tad more seclusion if you really want to get away from it all. The two polo grounds, equestrian centre, tennis courts and an eco-friendly spa offer plenty of ways for you to while away your time at Coworth Park, if you can tear yourself away from your bath/bed/open fire/in-room champagne (more of that, later)
In addition, if you did want to take the kids the hotel welcomes them and provides plenty of entertaining options. The rural location offers lots of opportunities for 'running off all that energy', along with a kids club, teen den and outdoor activity programme. Legoland Windsor and Thorpe Park are also nearby for days out. We were out of child-friendly mode on this particular weekend and didn't see or hear any sign of children, so if you are visiting as an 'escape' there is no need to bring earplugs. The way they run things here definitely works if you are travelling 'en' or 'sans' famille.
We stayed in a Mansion House Premium Suite, namely the Derby Suite. Both my sister and I did lengthy wolf whistles (in our head) while being shown around the suite, accompanied by darting knowing glances in order to keep in with the highbrow nature of the place. Unnecessary, really, since the entirely friendly army of staff seemed just as pleased and proud to be working there, as we were to stay. With a bottle of Veuve Cliquot (how appropriate) already chilling in our lounge, a fireplace with stack of logs just begging to be lit, our own balcony with a peaceful view over the meadows, a giant four-poster bed and the promise of an entire dressing room (complete with walk-in-wardrobe); we thought that we might have arrived in heaven. When my sister saw the roll top bath, within which she later indulged in bubbles, champagne and chocolate, she decided that we definitely had.
Coworth Park says: “The Premium Suites are the largest and finest suites in the Mansion House. All with best views of the lime grove, meadows, Polo fields and the picturesque 240 acre estate.”
First piece of advice: visit the Coworth Park Spa in the evening at least once during your stay. It takes on an ‘out-of-this-world’ quality in the dark thanks to the green lighting in the pool and giant crystals flanking to poolside, all visible from the outside. On the approach, you feel you have discovered a hidden gem, as the Spa is partly sunken and initially hidden from view. When taking a dip, make sure you do a few lengths on your back with your head under the water to make the most of the underwater music – quite ethereal.
The Vitality of the Glaciers Valmont Facial
When having a spa treatment at Coworth Park, there is a waiting lounge that you should definitely make the most of. Stocked with lemon water, homemade Florentine biscuits, chaise longues and Vanity Fair, it is just as (if not more than) relaxing as being poolside. I indulged in a Valmont Facial, the relative newbie on the spa menu. Having noticed more lines creeping in especially around the eye area, I was keen to see how this facial would fulfill its promise of having an anti-ageing effect. Valmont Swiss skincare products have been created from cellular cosmetic research and give long-lasting and visible results. Entering a light and bright white room, my therapist gently sent me into a comfortable snooze while she worked on
The Valmont facial at Coworth Park uses these anti-ageing products during a 90-minute blissful treatment, which includes cleansing, gentle exfoliation, a full face collagen mask and a welcome arm, hand and shoulder massage. After rousing myself off the cosy bed, my face appeared plumped and, dare I say, radiant. Facial = 1, Harley Street = 0.
What we ate
We chose to eat at the on site Barn restaurant, which is nestled in among the cottage and stable conversions. The Barn provides a more laid-back approach to dining, compete with roaring fire, dim lighting, bustling open kitchen service hatch and chunky wooden tables.
On such a chilly winter evening, we enjoyed a couple of glasses of Malbec wine to accompany our steak and bone marrow main courses, with a side of chunky chips. I chose a mackerel and clementine starter and we devoured chocolate cheesecake and trifle deserts between us. Chef Brian Hughson (previously of The Dorchester and Michelin star restaurant W1) oversees all the restaurants at Coworth Park, so you eat in the knowledge that you are in fine foodie hands.
I am not ashamed to admit that we got a little lost on our way to the Barn restaurant. It was dark and all of around 10ft away from the Mansion House… However, this provided great reasoning for us to take advantage of the golf car cab service, offered to all guests, for our return journey. As we prepared to leave, our host arranged for our chariot to collect us outside. Our driver regaled us with tales of guests who had not made use of his wheels and attempted the walk back themselves, only to end up falling into the lake en route. The path is well lit, so we can only assume it had much more to do with the Malbec. Our 'driver' then turned into 'firestarter' as he joined us in our suite to get the fire finally roaring. Bidding us a good night, we wasted no time in changing into our pristine robes and watching a DVD borrowed from the concierge while discussing our spa plans for the next day.
Breakfast, taken in the Restaurant, matches the quality of dinner. It is served a la carte and you can order everything from pancakes and waffles to fresh fruit platters and full English breakfasts – or one of everything. It is a holiday, after all. But, be prepared to be leaving Coworth Park with your head full of schemes and plans about how, why and when you will be returning
Coworth Park, Blacknest Road, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7SE Tel: +44 1344 876 600
Coworth Park, doubles from £330 including breakfast and VAT. To make a booking or for further information, please call 0(+44) 1344 876 600 or email reservations.CPA@dorchestercollection.com
Event at Coworth Park
Mich Turner MBE, founder of the Little Venice Cake Company and who is often described as the 'Queen of Couture Cakes', will be hosting the next speaker event at Coworth Park on Tuesday 11 February.
The event begins at 12pm with welcome refreshments and the opportunity to meet Mich who will be talking all about the art of baking and tips for your own bakery business and kitchen skills. This will be followed by lunch or afternoon tea. It costs £50 per person for the three-course lunch including one glass of champagne, a glass of wine, coffee and petit fours.
Call 01344 756 784 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and quote the name of the event to book your place